And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Archive for the ‘Unfunded liabilities’ Category

The huge Farm Bill was defeated.  80% of the Farm Bill was for Food Stamp spending and only 20% related to farms and farming.  The  Republican led House is now proposing to split the Food Stamp program or SNAPS from the Agriculture Department so that a closer watch can be kept on this outrageous spending.  Of course they were put together in the first place in order for both farm and rural congressmen and Food Stamps which are primarily urban Congressman would vote together to pass these outrageous bills.  This is a favorite  Washington ploy: buying the votes!  Just look at the Immigration Bill and how the Senators loaded it down with pork ( or pay offs) for everyone before it got passed.  Remember the Republican House refusing to pass the first version of the  Hurricane Sandy Bill to help the hurricane victims in the northeast to rebuild because on 30% of the funds allotted were to go to the hurricane victims while the 70% of pork funding in it was for things as unrelated as a new roof for a building in D.C.  Many, including Gov. Christie of New Jersey blamed the Republicans for stopping this outrage and believed that anything  the greedy big spending Democrats wanted was okay as long as something went to the right people.  It is this kind of thinking and this kind of voting that has gotten our country to the brink of bankruptcy!  This is the name of the game in the Farm Bill which the Republican House members voted down and it is the same game being played with the Democrats Senate version of an Immigration Bill.

The following newsletter from heritage has some very good information from various writers on these topics.  Also more information on Obama’s plans for raising all of our energy prices which will not only affect our  electric and gasoline bills but our food and clothi8ng bills as well because all industry requires the use of energy and if energgy costs go up the cost of all goods and services must aslo go up.  Check them out>  BB

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Items for Friday, June 28th, 2013


Immigration Bill Riddled With Pork
Breitbart.com

Jim Carafano
Derrick Morgan
Genevieve Wood
Jessica Zuckerman

Family Fact of the Week: What the Record-Low Marriage Rate Means for Americans’ Well-Being
Heritage.org

Jennifer Marshall
Ryan Anderson
John Malcolm

Gay rights clash: Obama, African host are at odds 
AP

Jennifer Marshall
Ryan Anderson 
Charlotte Florance

Abortion tables may turn in Texas on Monday
Politico

Jennifer Marshall
Ryan Anderson
Andrew Walker

House Leaders Consider Splitting Food Stamps From Farm Bill
Bloomberg

Diane Katz
Daren Bakst
Rachel Scheffield

Obama refuses to barter for Edward Snowden
BBC.com

Steven Bucci
Paul Rosenzweig
Ariel Cohen
Peter Brookes
Jim Carafano

 

Latest Heritage Research:


Issue Brief
History Suggests Social Security Insolvency Is Coming Sooner Than Projected

Issue Brief
Energy Production on Federal Lands: Handing Keys Over to the States

Issue Brief
Cost of a Climate Policy: The Economic Impact of Obama’s Climate Action Plan

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Yesterday I* posted on just where each of your tax dollars go.  The largest outlays were for our Senior Citizens in the form of Medicare and Social Security.    And yes dear reader I went into my usual rant about the reason for Social Security and is oldsters living much longer than we should and therefore getting  years and years more than we put into the Social Security program thru our payroll deductions while we were working.  In fact, we each get back every cent we put into our account within two and one half years after retirement!!  After that People we are on WELFARE and living off the backs of the young!!   Social security needs to be means tested and should go only to those who need it to live a decent life.  That does not mean paying for Grandma and Grandpa to spend lovely warm winters in Florida in their fancy RV’s.   And yes, I spent eleven years as a full time RVer so I know well what I am talking about.  I also lived for 19 years in Florida before retirement and know how populations in some towns in Florida go from 7000 in the summer to 70,000  in the winter.  People who can afford to own RVs do not need Social Security.  They should not be living on the backs of the young or getting money that is becoming a national debt that their great grandchildren will have to pay back.

Of course next on the Greedy Geezer list are those who are well able to buy their own health insurance but who take Medicare.   At the grand old age of 24 in 1965 i was so much against this Medicare scam that President Johnson and the Congress (both Democrats and Republicans)  were in on with the insurance companies.    At that time only an estimated 40% of seniors needed some help paying for their health insurance.  And instead of putting these people on Medicaid or some type of stipend to help them purchase their own health insurance the ENTIRE elderly population 65 and over no matter their income was put on Medicare.  It was a disaster in the making just as Obamacare is going to be the devastation of our country as we know it.   ALL the estimates of costs of the Medicare program in 1965 were 2000%  (that is two THOUSAND percent) under the actual costs of Medicare in 2010.  Again we Seniors are being kept healthy and alive on the backs of our current working young and by putting our great grandchildren in debt for life.  Our great grandchildren in effect will have no life because they will be slaves to paying for the lives we are living now.

How can Americans bear to live with what we are allowing to happen?  I grieve for my country and for my great grandchildren yet to be born.

Anyhow, no more ranting from me.  The following article from Cato Institute  explains better than I can why we must stop the madness of our entitlement programs and put them on a course that will  help those who truly need help but take those who can do for themselves  off the programs.  It really grates me when wealthy Americans are using Medicare.

Be sure to go to the referred sites for additional information.  Sincerely, Brenda Bowers (BB)

APRIL 16, 2013 8:40AM

Entitlement Spending Is America’s Biggest Fiscal Challenge, but Discretionary Spending Is Still Far too High

If America descends into Greek-style fiscal chaos, there’s no doubt that entitlement programs will be the main factor. Social SecurityMedicareMedicaid, and Disability are all fiscal train wrecks today, and the long-run outlook for these programs is frightful.

Just look at these numbers from the Bank for International Settlements and OECD to see how our fiscal future is bleaker than many of Europe’s welfare states.

Simply stated, if we don’t implement the right kind of entitlement reform, our children and grandchildren at some point will curse our memory.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about other parts of the budget, including the so-called discretionary programs that also have been getting bigger and bigger budgets over time.

That’s why I want to add some additional analysis to Veronique de Rugy’s recent piece inNational Review Online, which might lead some to mistakenly conclude that these programs are “shrinking” and being subject to a “Big Squeeze.”

…there is another number to look at in that budget. It’s the shrinking share of the budget consumed by discretionary spending (spending on things like defense and infrastructure) to make space for mandatory spending and interest. This is the Big Squeeze. …in FY 2014 mandatory spending plus interest will eat up 67 percent of the budget, leaving discretionary spending with 33 percent of the budget (down from 36 percent in FY 2012). Now by FY 2023, mandatory and interest spending will consume 77 percent of the total budget. Discretionary spending will be left with 23 percent of the budget.

She’s right that discretionary spending is becoming a smaller share of the budget, but it’s important to realize that this is solely because entitlement outlays are growing faster than discretionary spending.

Here’s some data from the Historical Tables of the Budget, showing what is happening to spending for both defense discretionary and domestic discretionary. And these are inflation-adjusted numbers, so the we’re looking at genuine increases in spending.

Discretionary Spending FY62-14

As you can see, defense outlays have climbed by about $100 billion over the past 50 years, while outlays for domestic discretionary programs have more than tripled.

If that’s a “Big Squeeze,” I’m hoping that my household budget experiences a similar degree of “shrinking”!

Veronique obviously understands these numbers, of course, and is simply making the point that politicians presumably should have an incentive to restrain entitlement programs so they have more leeway to also buy votes with discretionary spending.

But I’d hate to think that an uninformed reader would jump to the wrong conclusion and decide we need more discretionary spending.

Particularly since the federal government shouldn’t be spending even one penny for many of the programs and department that are part of the domestic discretionary category. Should there be a federal Department of Transportation? A federal Department of Housing and Urban Development? A federal Department of Agriculture?

No, NO, and Hell NO. I could continue, but you get the idea.

The burden of federal government spending in the United States is far too high and it should be reduced. That includes discretionary spending and entitlement spending.

P.S. For those who don’t have the misfortune of following the federal budget, “entitlements” are programs that are “permanently appropriated,” which simply means that spending automatically changes in response to factors such as eligibility rules, demographic shifts, inflation, and program expansions. Sometimes these programs (such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc) are referred to as “mandatory spending.”

The other big part of the budget is “discretionary spending” or “appropriations.” These are programs funded by annual spending bills from the Appropriations Committees, often divided into the two big categories of “defense discretionary” and “nondefense discretionary.”

You are required by law to pay taxes on your income today.  This income tax became law  when the states ratified the 16th. Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in 1913.  Our forefathers when writing the Constitution specifically denied the government from taxing the people or what was called a “direct tax”.  The states however were to be taxed  to support the costs of the federal government in direct proportion to the number of people living in the state.    Our forefathers saw the power an individual income tax would give governments over the people and the power to  hand out favors and manipulate the system to favor those who could bribe the Congress to write the laws in their favor.     This is why and how our own President paid only 18.5% taxes on his income.  How much did you pay?

Anyhow, just for your information this is what your tax dollars are paying for.  You will notice I sincerely hope that the largest part of your tax dollar is being paid out to senior citizens thru Medicare and Social Security!   Time and again I have explained on this site how we Seniors are getting from Social Security and Medicare so much more than we ever paid into these programs.  It is beyond me that we as a people insist on paying for millionaires medical expenses and paying them a pension  simply because they got old.    In fact, even the fact that we are paying these government handouts to anyone whose income is such that they can afford their own health insurance is beyond me.  It is long past time that Social Security and Medicare be means tested an only for the poor.   And with Medicare and Medicaid taking up 19% of your tax dollar now you can bet that Obamacare will triple that amount.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Obamacare would cost 1.9 trillion dollars over ten years but have since readjusted this estimate to 5.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years.  You might also remember that the government has always vastly underestimated the costs of  its programs.  But have been on this soap box before Dear Reader so will jump off now and get back to the point of the expenses paid by your tax dollar.

Defense takes a large portion also.  BUT, defense of our country was the one duty given to the federal government. We have the finest military in the world and  have been fortunate enough to have been free of a war on our shores by an invasion of a foreign power since 1812.  Somehow during the 20th. century the United States became the police force of the entire world which was not envisioned by our founders and certainly should not be our role now in my opinion.

 

Another  large portion of your tax dollar is the 6% that is going for interest payments.  THAT IS THE PAYMENT OF INTEREST ON OUR NATIONAL DEBT!   A national debt that took two hundred years to amount to 9 trillion dollars but on 4 more years to amount to 16 trillion dollars!!  So at this rate in just 5 years the percentage of your tax dollar that goes to just the interest on the national debt will  be more  than any other expense!  Keep that in mind when you go to the polls and elect a person who believes the federal government should put more and more people on medicaid or on food stamps or on disability.  All of these give away programs have doubled under our current president in just 4 years!

So read this article carefully and understand.   An plesase do go to the sites referred in the article . BB

 

Where Did Your Tax Dollar Go?

Americans are waking up today to the worst “case of the Mondays” they’ll have all year: It’s Tax Day.

Most Americans dread Tax Day, and for good reasons. Beyond the huge tab Americans pay to the government, the tax code is so complex that it’s difficult to figure out what we owe to the IRS. This is a pain for taxpayers and a huge drain on the economy.

According to the federal Taxpayer Advocate in its 2012 report, Americans’ cost of complying with today’s complex tax code totaled $168 billion in 2010. That’s almost as large as the impact of the Obama tax hikes in fiscal year 2013, and twice the size of sequestration this year [see chart].

It takes taxpayers 6.1 billion hours—or 51 hours per household—to complete all the required filings. That’s more than six full eight-hour working days per household!

The compliance burden comes on top of the direct financial cost of $3.5 trillion in federal spending. In 2012, Washington collected $20,000 in taxes for every household in America. But Washington spent nearly $30,000 per household.

TaxDay_403

Americans pay high taxes as it is, and with the 13 tax increases that hit this year, tax revenue is growing beyond its historical average as a share of the economy. But Washington’s deficits continue, because spending keeps going up.

Future Tax Days promise to be even worse because of the tax increases from the fiscal cliff deal and from Obamacare. Taxpayers will start seeing these costs when they do their tax returns next April and in future years.

Too much taxing and spending is bad for the nation. Americans are right to be concerned about how the President and Congress allocate their hard-earned money. As the above infographic shows, 45 percent or almost half of all spending went toward paying for Social Security and health care entitlements. Without reforming these massive and growing programs, Washington will have to borrow increasing amounts of money, piling debt onto younger generations and putting the nation on a dangerous economic course.

Growing government spending threatens current and future taxpayers with higher taxes. Congress should reduce spending and prevent any more tax increases. Congress also needs toreform the tax code so it is less of a burden on the American people.

Tax day is a real drag, but it doesn’t have to be this bad. Learn more at savingthedream.org.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day atHeritage Libertad.

 

It’s only 65 days late and President Obama is out pushing the “stuff” about how obliging and cooperative he is being with the Republicans but those nasty Republicans just won’t give him a chance to help the poor and middle class, ans so on and so on.  Bottom line is that no one has ever voted for an Obama budget, neither a Republican or a Democrat, so this is just one more.  But just for the Hell of it I will pass on the Heritage Foundations comments because they seem to say it best in a nut shell.  BB By the way in case you missed the story about my dear little rabbit Cinnabun and what he has in common with the President of the United States:  Cinnabun likes to play and one of his best games is to push his little litter box up and down his cage.  Watching him one day it dawned on me that he was very much like President Obama in that they both seem to enjoy pushing crap around.  🙂  BB   Now for Obama’s latest load of crap:

5 Things to Know About the Obama Budget President Obama finally released his budget yesterday—more than two months late. Heritage experts immediately went to work analyzing the mounds of new spending on education, manufacturing, “clean energy,” infrastructure, and small business. But the President didn’t stop at more of the same failed stimulus and Solyndra-type policies. He also piled on the tax increases—including on seniors, the poor, and the middle class. Five key things to know about President Obama’s budget: 1. It hikes taxes by $1.1 trillion. Heritage’s Curtis Dubay says: “There was little doubt that President Obama would propose a huge tax hike in his budget. It is a bit surprising, however, that the total tax increase he proposes is almost double what he claims it to be.” Dubay explains where all the tax increases come from—including the “Buffett Rule,” capping tax deductions, and hiking the cigarette tax and the death tax. BudgetGuide_Snippet_V2 Tweet this >>> See and share an extended version of this infographic 2. It underfunds defense. Heritage’s Patrick Louis Knudsen explains that “While boosting domestic spending, the President remains indifferent to national security needs. His proposed defense spending, though somewhat higher than sequestration levels, remains inadequate.” Baker Spring says, “The result is going to be a defense posture that is too small in terms of both personnel and force structure, does not include modern weapons and equipment, and does not provide adequate levels of training and maintenance.” 3. It doubles down on Obamacare. The Obama budget actually expands parts of Obamacare and even includes new changes to Medicare that create two sneakynew “taxes” on seniors. Obamacare’s “malignant new entitlements—its health insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansions—start in this 2014 budget,” Knudsen reminds us.

With their implementation, the misnamed Affordable Care Act will add a distinctlyunaffordable $1.8 trillion in federal spendingthrough 2023. Equally important, Obamacare commandeers the health care sector with a massive program that further distorts the market, intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship, and dismisses personal and religious liberty.

4. It doesn’t balance and never will.  As Knudsen says, “Because the budget never balances—it doesn’t even try—debt remains at dangerously elevated levels.” See how Obama’s non-balancing budget compares to the plans in the House and Senate, as well as Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan. 5. It’s irrelevant. The President’s budget is more than two months late. The House and Senate have already passed their own budgets, and the next step is for the two chambers to come together to see if they can hash out a budget that both chambers can pass. At this point, why is the President bothering? LEARN MORE: The Obama Budget in One Infographic Damaging Policies Add Up to $1 Trillion Tax Increase in Obama Budget Heritage Experts’ Analysis of the Obama Budget

Heritage Foundation has done an excellent job out spelling out just how Obamacare is going to destroy the healthcare system of the United States which is considered the best in the world.  At the same time it is now beyond a doubt going to be the most expensive health care system in the world.  AND YES, it will indeed have the  Death Squads that the Republicans warned us all about where unelected  non-medically trained desk jerks have the power to tell us and our doctors what medical procedures we can have.  I have all  of the details here in this final article that Heritage termed the 12 dsays of Obamacare. I chose toi keep the individual articles until this last one and then leave it to you to educate yourself.  I have been actually sickened by the details of each article.   You can read them all and see for yourself.  Of course by electing Obama to a second term we Americans are stuck with this monster.  BB

 

12 Days of Obamacare Surprises: An Optional Medicaid Expansion

Alyene Senger

December 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm

(0)

Not all surprises are good. When it comes to Obamacare, the original projections are turning into unfortunately different realities. For the past 11 days, Heritage has highlighted one of the various changes in Obamacare projections (e.g., cost, enrollment, etc.) from when the law first passed until now. This Christmas morning will be the last day in this blog series and will highlight a positiveObamacare surprise.

In 2014, Obamacare expands Medicaid eligibility to able-bodied, childless adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). If a state chose not to expand, the federal government would stop funding their existing Medicaid programs. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that by 2016, Obamacare would drive an additional 17 million Americans into Medicaid.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion was unconstitutionally coercive, ensuring state that chose not to expand would not lose existing federal assistance. Due to the Court’s ruling, the CBO now estimates that 6 million less Americans will be enrolled in the failing Medicaid program in 2022.

Surprise: While additional federal funding is available to those states that expand, the states will be burdened with the true cost. At least 20 states are planning to not expand or are unlikely to expand their Medicaid programs, according to Politico. The Supreme Court’s decision dealt a major blow to Obamacare and shifted a great deal of power to the states. This Christmas, in light of Obamacare’s many other mandates and requirements, this optional part of the law is certainly something to be thankful for.

12 Days of Obamacare Surprises:

11. Unlikely deficit reduction…

10. Unelected bureaucrats on IPAB…

9. Increased employer penalties…

8. More cuts to Medicare…

7. Loss of employer-sponsored insurance

6. A 50/50 split on enrollment estimates

5. More uninsured Americans

4. Increased exchange subsidies

3. Big tax increases

2. The small business tax credit

1. And the individual mandate.

There are few men who just always seem to make a great deal of sense when they speak and John Stossel is one of my favorite.  He cuts right thru all the chaff and gets right to the meat simply and clearly.  The following article is not new news but is a great sumation of where we are now and why and how we got here as well as a simple solution.  The solution really is simple and it amazes me that our government officials can’t seem to understand it.  As for our President….well Educated Idiot may be applied if you want to give hijm credit for being a decent human being.  I don’t,  so I will just label him as evil.   BB

Uncertainty Paralysis 
By John Stossel
Wednesday, June 06, 2012

President Obama would do us all a big favor if he’d ask himself this: “Would I start or expand a business without knowing what regulations or taxes government will impose next year?”

If he’d just stop and ask that, he’d have a sense of what’s wrong with the economy. He’d understand why a country that must create 120,000 new jobs each month just to absorb newcomers created only 69,000 last month.

Past recoveries were quicker. Something is different. What could it be?

Let’s remember that the economy — which is to say, us — is already burdened by byzantine bureaucratic impositions. Every week, the feds add another thousand pages of rules and proposals for rules. Local governments add their own. My mayor, in New York City, even proposes micromanaging the size of the drinks restaurants may sell.

On top of the existing mountain of red tape, the Obama administration has piled on more, with more to come. Obamacare was less a specific prescription than a license for the Department of Health and Human Services to write new rules, lots of which are yet to be written. No one knows how the bureaucrats will micromanage health insurance.  

Then there’s Dodd-Frank, the 2,300-page revamp of finance industry regulation. Again, the bill left the rule-writing to regulatory agencies. Who knows what they will come up with?    (All these little clerks at their desks trying to justify their jobs!  BB)

Every year, Congress makes thousands of changes to tax laws. And no one can guess what will happen in 2013 if the 2001 and 2003 rate cuts expire.  

There is an irresistible temptation for politicians to “do something” whenever real or imagined problems appear. The number of on-the-fly programs in recent years (from attacks on unpaid internships to Cash for Clunkers) has been astounding. This uncertainty kills job creation. If you cannot tell what will happen next week, next month, next year, why make a significant commitment? The next law or executive order might make a mockery of your plans.

America faces a humongous debt, and its trajectory is upward. If nothing changes, the whole budget would be consumed by interest payments. No politician wants that — if only because there’ll be no money to buy votes.

How will the problem be dealt with? Higher taxes? Massive inflation? Some combination? Where does that leave someone today who might, in a more stable policy environment, be eager to launch some big, long-term investment project?

In the dark, that’s where.

Economist John B. Taylor of the Hoover Institution summed it up aptly: “Unpredictable economic policy — massive fiscal ‘stimulus’ and ballooning debt, the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing with multiyear near-zero interest rates, and regulatory uncertainty due to Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms — is the main cause of persistent high unemployment and our feeble recovery.”  

Historian Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute calls it “regime uncertainty.”

We should have learned the lesson during the Great Depression. Today’s problems are nowhere close to the 1930s, but there is a similarity in Franklin Roosevelt’s policy fog. Higgs writes:

“The insufficiency of private investment from 1935 through 1940 reflected a pervasive uncertainty among investors about the security of their property rights in their capital and its prospective returns. … The willingness of businesspeople to invest requires a sufficiently healthy state of ‘business confidence,’ and the Second New Deal ravaged the requisite confidence… .”

The solution? Taylor finds it in the writing of Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek: the rule of law. “Stripped of all technicalities,” Hayek wrote in “The Road to Serfdom,” “this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand — rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.”

If we are ever to get out of this hole the politicians have dug, we must disabuse them of the conceit that they improve our lives by spending more, guaranteeing investments or “jump-starting” industries.

Only when politicians butt out, leaving us with simple, predictable rules, can the economy grow for us all.

John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network. He’s the author of “Give Me a Break” and of “Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity.” To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM 

Once again, thank you for sending us your e-mails. We can’t respond individually, but we read and consider all of them. Send your question, comment, or complaint tojohn@theprojecttorestoreamerica.com orwendy@theprojecttorestoreamerica.com.

(I often learn for the emails.  BB)
*** Mr. Hinkle’s article that you carried was most interesting. I particularly appreciated its logical, reasonable tone. In an era where any issue becomes a matter of ideological bias, he made a very reasonable case.  

This doesn’t discount the development of other sources of energy. If there was a perfect market system without subsidies for oil companies and renewable energies, then perhaps price would determine investment choices. Oil of course has other consequences such as triggering wars and it is a contributor to greenhouse gases. Thank you, Jim 

Bidwell comment: Jim, if oil companies and renewable energy firms did not get subsidies, then yes, the price of the various energy sources would determine investment choices. Price would dictate the energy sources we develop and use, and energy would be like any other market good.

You can make the same case for healthcare. If the government didn’t subsidize healthcare, all of our healthcare costs would come down because healthcare would be like any other market good. All in all, government funding and involvement manipulates markets, and American consumers end up paying more (and sometimes for less effective products).     (YES!!  This goes for education and any thing else.  The government gets into it and the prices go sky high!  BB)

*** Why can’t the government pay for infrastructure and so on by selling natural resources (like oil)? Sincerely, Walt 

Bidwell comment: Walt, you are a smart man. If you are like John Heffern and me, you are very excited about the possibility of fracking and shale oil. With this technology, high pressure water is used to frack rocks, and the rocks release oil and natural gas. With some research and development, natural gas will be able to power cars and trucks while we become one of the leading exporters of oil. This might all happen within the next few years…

That is, if the government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and others do not stand in the way of this technology. If the government doesn’t impede innovation and growth, our country can become preeminent again, will be able to afford state of the art infrastructure and plan accordingly for the future.  

 

Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer
Opinion Writer

The great divide

, Published: July 28

We’re in the midst of a great four-year national debate on the size and reach of government, the future of the welfare state, indeed, the nature of the social contract between citizen and state. The distinctive visions of the two parties — social-democratic vs. limited-government — have underlain every debate on every issue since Barack Obama’s inauguration: the stimulus, the auto bailouts, health-care reform, financial regulation, deficit spending. Everything. The debt ceiling is but the latest focus of this fundamental divide.The sausage-making may be unsightly, but the problem is not that Washington is broken, that ridiculous ubiquitous cliche. The problem is that these two visions are in competition, and the definitive popular verdict has not yet been rendered.

We’re only at the midpoint. Obama won a great victory in 2008 that he took as a mandate to transform America toward European-style social democracy. The subsequent counterrevolution delivered to that project a staggering rebuke in November 2010. Under our incremental system, however, a rebuke delivered is not a mandate conferred. That awaits definitive resolution, the rubber match of November 2012.

I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries. Their containment of the Obama experiment has been remarkable. But reversal — rollback, in Cold War parlance — is simply not achievable until conservatives receive a mandate to govern from the White House.

Lincoln is reputed to have said: I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. I don’t know whether conservatives have God on their side (I keep getting sent to His voice mail), but I do know that they don’t have Kentucky — they don’t have the Senate, they don’t have the White House. And under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one house alone. Today’s resurgent conservatism, with its fidelity to constitutionalism, should be particularly attuned to this constraint, imposed as it is by a system of deliberately separated — and mutually limiting — powers.

Given this reality, trying to force the issue — turn a blocking minority into a governing authority — is not just counter-constitutional in spirit but self-destructive in practice.

Consider the Boehner Plan for debt reduction. The Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm calls it “regrettably insufficient.” Of course it is. That’s what happens when you control only half a branch. But the plan’s achievements are significant. It is all cuts, no taxes. It establishes the precedent that debt-ceiling increases must be accompanied by equal spending cuts. And it provides half a year to both negotiate more fundamental reform (tax and entitlement) and keep the issue of debt reduction constantly in the public eye.

I am somewhat biased about the Boehner Plan because for weeks I’ve been arguing (in this column and elsewhere) for precisely such a solution: a two-stage debt-ceiling hike consisting of a half-year extension with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts, followed by intensive negotiations on entitlement and tax reform. It’s clean. It’s understandable. It’s veto-proof. (Obama won’t dare.) The Republican House should have passed it weeks ago.

After all, what is the alternative? The Reid Plan with its purported $2 trillion of debt reduction? More than half of that comes from not continuing surge-level spending in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next 10 years. Ten years? We’re out of Iraq in 150 days. It’s all a preposterous “saving” from an entirely fictional expenditure.

The Congressional Budget Office has found that Harry Reid’s other discretionary savings were overestimated by $400 billion. Not to worry, I am told. Reid has completely plugged that gap. There will be no invasion of Canada next year (a bicentennial this-time-we’re-serious 1812 do-over). Huge savings. Huge.

The Obama Plan? There is no Obama plan. And the McConnell Plan, a final resort that punts the debt issue to Election Day, would likely yield no cuts at all.

Obama faces two massive problems — jobs and debt. They’re both the result of his spectacularly failed Keynesian gamble: massive spending that left us a stagnant economy with high and chronic unemployment — and a staggering debt burden. Obama is desperate to share ownership of this failure. Economic dislocation from a debt-ceiling crisis nicely serves that purpose — if the Republicans play along. The perfect out: Those crazy Tea Partyers ruined the recovery!

Why would any conservative collaborate with that ploy? November 2012 constitutes the new conservatism’s one chance to restructure government and change the ideological course of the country. Why risk forfeiting that outcome by offering to share ownership of Obama’s wreckage?

 

 

 

Video

In both debt plans, the wealthy win.

In both debt plans, the wealthy win.


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BB’s file cabinet

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